Kevin Rudd has become the latest former prime minister to oppose Victoria's Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill, warning MPs against backing a euthanasia system and instead opting for better palliative care, The Australian reports.
Mr Rudd told The Australian: “If I was a member of the Victorian Legislative Assembly or the Victorian upper house, I’d vote to defeat (the bill).
“I am a strong supporter of same-sex marriage or marriage equality, as you know, so I don’t come at this from a classical Christian mandate perspective.
“What I am deeply worried about is one simple practical question, which is: at the point at which an older person concludes that they are sick, they are very sick, and that they have become a burden on their families or their community, the pressure now transfers to them in terms of making a decision about their life’s future.
“And I cannot have any confidence that, and I do not believe, we should place that burden on people in their later years.”
Mr Rudd became the third former prime minister to oppose the legislation, joining Paul Keating and Tony Abbott, and called yesterday for greater investment in palliative care.
“I know too many people who, too many friends of mine, who have died painfully in recent years,” Mr Rudd said. “I don’t turn my back on that. So our national palliative care effort needs to be radically improved.”
Meanwhile, the Liberal MP holding the key to Victoria’s euthanasia laws is privately anxious about the way people will be handed the lethal drugs, the insurance fallout for survivors and the lack of a proper national assisted dying framework, and he could force the Andrews government to heavily amend the bill or engineer its defeat.
The Australian understands Victorian Legislative Council president Bruce Atkinson, a socially progressive Liberal, is yet to finalise his position on the bill but has privately backed a workable model that allows people to end their life on their terms. However, it is understood Mr Atkinson is concerned about the Andrews government’s legislation, including the manner in which the lethal drugs will be handed to euthanasia patients and the lack of a uniform national response to assisted dying.
He is also concerned about insurance and wants to ensure families will qualify for payouts. And he wants greater security around the box of euthanasia drugs handed to the patient to prevent double suicides and potential accidents.
A veteran of the Victorian Parliament with cross-party respect, Mr Atkinson is expected to talk in the next 48 hours with assisted dying advocate Andrew Denton and the head of the Victorian euthanasia taskforce, Professor Brian Owler.
Victoria’s euthanasia bill confronts new hurdle (The Australian)
Nitschke wants euthanasia access for over-70s (Sky News Australia)